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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

R Leonard

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R Leonard last won the day on October 23

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  1. R Leonard

    Help needed please!

    Not US cadets, not a USMA, VMI, Citadel, Norwich, nor even Texas A&M. Quite a few others college OTC (that's right, OTC, ROTC came later) in the US of that period I could name. Most either wore a USMA style grey uniform, such as VMI, Citadel, Norwich, or PMC, or the dark blue officers service dress blouse (such as VPI or the Aggies) from the 1908 regulations circa the time of the blouse in the photo. I believe it is a British or Commonwealth blouse. US Army uniforms were high collar until about 1924 when they switched to an open collar,flat lapel type blouse over a shirt and tie. Today, Aggies still wear that open neck type, the famous "pinks & greens;" VMI, Norwich, & Citadel wear cadet grey like USMA but with slight variations on trim and different buttons; PMC, and I believe, NMMI went out of business a long time ago; VPI wears the USMA style service blouse only in blue, not grey. Everybody else, ROTC, that is, wears standard contemporary US Army attire as they always have.
  2. R Leonard

    Naval early jets

    From the Norfolk, Virginia “Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch” July 9, 1949, page 9: “Takes No Superman to Fly Jet Fighters – Two Veteran Navy Pilots Convinced New Planes Easier and Safer, Too” – By Herald Latham You don’t have to be a superman to fly jet propelled airplanes. At least, no more so than to fly any combat plane. That is the sentiment of a man who should know – Commander W. N. Leonard, USN, commanding officer of the Navy Fighter Squadron VF-171, one of the Navy’s two operational jet squadrons. During his 11 years in the Navy, Leonard has amassed a total of more than 2,300 hours flight time. Most of it has been in fighter planes. He has flown jets for several hundred hours during the slightly more than three years the Navy has had them. He has flown from the decks of aircraft carriers and from operational land bases. Leonard’s opinion is seconded by another flier who demands a healthy respect. Lt. Comdr. W. B. “Wild Bill” Biggers, USN, executive officer of VF-171, says the same thing. Biggers is a veteran of 3,500 hours flight time and has been in the Navy for about eight and a half years. Too Old to Fly – According to armchair critics these men are too old to be flying fighter planes, even conventional types, much less the hot jets. Leonard is 33 and Biggers is 29. They agree, however, that insofar as the mechanics of flying is concerned, the jet is easier to fly that the conventional reciprocating engine powered airplane. “Why then,” they were asked, “is it that the public and pilots who have never flown jets think it is so hard?” They explained it this way: Aside from a publicity stunt to attract adventuresome young men into military flying, the opinion that a jet is a ‘hot’ plane has been built up because it is probably the most publicized flying machine in history. Classified Hush Hush – The jet has been classified as “hush hush” by high military officials. That puts the public’s imagination to work. Man is prone to exaggerate, so you get the feeling that super-natural powers are a prerequisite to jet flying. Then too, Biggers and Leonard continued, when a pilot is transferred from conventional planes to jets he thinks of himself as a student pilot once more. As a student progresses from one type of plan to a more advanced one, he is confronted with more speed, more difficult flying conditions and has to conquer more “musts” in precision flying. Actually, the hard thing about breaking a new pilot in on jets is that you have to convince them that jets are more simple than any plane he has ever flown before. “Just what do you mean by simple?” “Well,” Biggers said, “it’s like this. The jet cockpit is much more simple. It does not have near the number of engine instruments and gauges the older planes have. Engine instruments are the major worry for pilots at the crucial moments of taking off and landing.” “You don’t have the trouble with engine torque when full power is suddenly applied. Since the engine is almost vibration free, the pilot is not subjected to fatigue as in reciprocating engine powered planes,” added Leonard. Torque, as explained by Biggers is the tendency of an airplane to rotate on its longitudinal axis when full power is suddenly applied. It is caused by the propeller acting as a brake in the acceleration of the engine and thus the left wing f the plane is forced down if the engine rotates to the right. When the left wing of plane falls at extremely low altitudes, a crash might result. Alert All The Time – “The big trouble with jets is that you have to be on the alert all the time,” Leonard said. “Jets travel at such high speed that a slight miscalculation in navigation will result in your being miles off your course or beyond your destination.” “For example. You’re flying from here to Washington. A conventional fighter will make if in about 45 minutes. A jet will get there in 20 minutes. If the jet pilot has doped off he will be lost. The conventional fighter can dope off and still not be in too much trouble since he has more time to make a correction.” “How does the jets higher landing speed affect its use as a carrier plane?” “From my experience, Leonard answered, “It is the best carrier plane ever built.” He said a jet could be “put down” exactly where you wanted it to go. The higher landing speed is counter-acted by increasing the tension on the wires that catch the plane to slow and stop it. Leonard said high naval officials were apprehensive when jets were first flown from the decks of carriers. They were afraid the high speed and heavier weight would “bust” the jets as carrier based planes. Now, Leonard continued, they are as much for the jets as the old “battle wagon” admirals were for battleships. Pilot Training Not Difficult – “As an operational fighter plane does the jet offer any trouble to new jet fighters?” “No,” was the emphatic answer. “It’s just a matter of fundamental intelligence. If a pilot flies the way he was taught to fly in the first place, he should have no trouble handling the jet,” Leonard said. “Of course,” he continued, “the jet has opened a new field of aviation to the Navy. For that reason, we, the Navy, have been slow in converting to the jet fighter planes in comparison to the way the Air Force has converted. Heretofore, the Navy has stayed below or around the 15,000-foot altitude for fighter planes. Now, with the jet and the new tactics called for by them we can go up to a service ceiling of above 40,000 feet with the F2H ‘Banshee.’” (One of the planes the Navy has offered to pit against the Air Force’s giant B-36.) “Since the Navy is having to develop new tactics, we have used only chosen experienced pilots for the new jets. When these tactics are completed, these men will be designated to other squadrons to help with their organization when they are equipped with jets.” “Do you think you could pick, say, six brand new pilots from Pensacola (the Navy’s student pilot school) and make them into jet pilots just as easily as pilots of conventional airplanes?” “I certainly do,” Biggers answered. “Even to take them to carriers from operations there?” “Yes, during the many months we have been operating from carriers, we have not had one fatal crash or a crash that the jet was not able to fly away from. That includes carrier landings after weeks, or in some cases, months of lay-offs.” What About Reactions? – “The public has been reading about the slowing of the reflexes of pilots at high speeds. Does this actually happen or does it just apply to planes of the future which will break the super-sonic barrier?” “Well, I’d say the reaction to speeds over 400 miles an hour is about the same as below that figure,” Biggers said. “You might compare it to the increase of the speed of a car from 40 to 60 miles an hour. You’re going faster so you start reacting sooner, the same way you do when you approach a curve at 40 and then again at 60.” Both of these experienced pilots summed up jet-propelled flying this way: “You get there in less time.” Leonard was CO of VF-171 from 1948 to 1950. Under his command it became the Navy’s first operational jet squadron and the first jet squadron to carrier qualify. He was the 73d naval aviator to qualify in jets and an ace from the Pacific Theater. He was also one of the F8F pilots who set the climb to time records at the Cleveland Air Show in 1946.
  3. R Leonard

    Need help to Identify!

    I am certainly the last to claim knowledge on the subject, but your dagger appears to follow the pattern of the Fairbairn-Sykes "commando knife". As to its authenticity, I've not a clue.
  4. R Leonard

    Help needed please!

    Turned down collar. US uniforms of the WWI period had stand-up collars. Not a US uniform.
  5. R Leonard

    Please stop using the term "awarded"

    Whoa there big fella. Easy now. It is always best not to take offense unless and until it is well, truly, and pointedly offered. I was referring to the lug nut who wrote the headline for the article in "Army Times," above.
  6. R Leonard

    Please stop using the term "awarded"

    Perhaps just another fine example of poor writing by selecting the wrong word from someone who portrays him/herself as a "journalist".
  7. R Leonard


    The Soviet Navy of that time was not, as they say "a blue water navy." It was a navy that operated in the littorals and narrowly defined waters such as the Baltic or the Black seas. They had no use for aircraft carriers and, furthermore, the with the design of the GZ creating a piece of junk in terms of real aircraft carriers, trying to make it operational would be more trouble than it was worth. Their real mistake was not hauling it to a breakers yard and salvaging the steel . . . think of all those razor blades.
  8. R Leonard


    Bombing and torpedoing a hulk is certainly target practice for those doing the bombing and torpedoing. Target practice does not require a gun, it requires a means to deliver the specified ordnance on the given target.
  9. R Leonard

    Fight Pilots

    The short answer? The RAF started phasing out enlisted pilots in 1950. They were either directly commissioned or were appointed warrant officers. The British Army, on the other hand, has non-commissioned pilots.
  10. R Leonard

    Help with missile/rocket identification

    Nice shot, Ron!
  11. BunkerGearGal breaks out her handy-dandy Occam's Razor and goes to work. Succinct and to the point. Could not agree more.
  12. R Leonard

    1937 Nanjing/Nanking massacre movie questions

    1. Yes, the helmets are correct. The Nationalists were advised by Germans from 1928 to 1938. They were also supplied German weapons and surplus equipment, including helmets. It was a tidy money maker for German industry. The advisors were former military personnel. 2. Yes, see above. Not to mention that stick grenades are fairly easy to manufacture. 3. A very crude, field expedient shaped charge. Wet blanket serves to momentarily channel the force of the combined explosion in the direction of the flat end. Theoretically long enough to blow a hole through what armor a 1930s Japanese tank might possess. Not really something to toss, more something to place where you want it, like to top of a turret, flat side down. A lot of wishful thinking. "vell . . . it should verk . . ."
  13. I suspect that this award was not a personal award, rather it was part of the blanket Congressional Gold Medal awarded to OSS personnel, passed by Congress in 2016. A press release from one of the Senators from my state: https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/2/senate-passes-bill-to-award-congressional-gold-medal-to-oss-veterans And the actual legislation, see https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-114publ269/html/PLAW-114publ269.htm The act clearly references the bronze copies of the gold original which is, I presume, now since the act required same, held at the Smithsonian. And here's another recipient of the same bronze copy https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/05/07/after-74-years-army-veteran-recognized-for-wreaking-wwii-chaos-with-oss/ And another: http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180402/secret-wwii-commandos-rewarded-for-valor I am certain these awards are far more than just well deserved and, perhaps, somewhat belated, but my personal opinion is that they are not quite the breathless excitement exuded by some of the writers.
  14. He did not receive the Medal of Honor (please do not use abbreviations for decorations). He was awarded with a Congressional Gold Medal for his service as an OSS officer; in fact, what he actually received was a bronze copy of a Congressional Gold Medal. Again, this was NOT a decoration with the Medal of Honor. Congressional Gold Medals used to be important, but can also simply be a case where someone pushes their congressperson hard enough to insert wording in a funding bill and, viola, a medal is awarded. But they don't hand out gold medals, they simply say the award has been made, provide a picture of a generic real thing, put the announcement in the Congressional Record, and and cough up a replica. Illustrative in itself. Don't think I am demeaning the gent, I am not. Sounds like he was involved in the Jedburgh program . . . pretty hairy stuff . . . dropping 3 to 5 man teams into occupied France where they were pretty much on their own. Hopefully they would meet up with the local resistance, but if not . . . well, the results could be, and often were, terminal. The question in my mind is why was he not decorated by the Army? USMC personnel involved in these activities were decorated during and after the war; Peter J Ortiz, for example, was twice decorated with the Navy Cross for his behind the lines work in France for the OSS. If the Army failed to decorate Mr. Gleb, then it is nice to see someone take notice of his service by whatever means. Rant mode on: And of course, if you read the articles on Mr. Gleb, you see the constant repetition of "retired Captain". No reflection on him, but this is journalism run amok, people writing phrases without any conception of what they're saying. Mr. Gleb may be retired, at his age I would hope so, and his terminal rank was Captain, AUS, but that does not make him a retired Captain by any stretch of the imagination. Sometimes, when it comes to history and common sense, I think once a journalist's fingers hit the keyboard they loose the ability to think things through. Rant mode off.
  15. R Leonard

    Please stop using the term "awarded"

    The correct term, in US service, is "decorated" as in a full dress awards parade when the command is given by the adjutant: "Colors and personnel to be decorated . . . Center . . . March!" At which point the band plays an appropriate number, the colors come forward from the center of the formation, and the personnel to be decorated come traipsing out from wherever they had been stashed and form a line, senior decoration to the right as they face the reviewing stand and between the colors and the reviewing party. 'Struth for certes the word "decorate" is rarely used by anyone to describe pinning or hanging a medal on someone. That being said, "received" is okay and, yes, even "awarded," in the non specific vernacular, but never, ever, any form of "win" or "won" . . . performing an act for which one is decorated is/was not a competition. And a posthumous award, usually given to the next of kin . . . the decoration, whatever it might be, is presented to such, though the reality is for Medals of Honor, Navy Crosses, Distinguished Service Crosses, and Air Force Crosses, the top tier medals for valor in US service, presentations are usually fairly public affairs. Below that, such presentations tend to be less ostentatious and are generally fairly private affairs usually conducted in an office somewhere. By the end of the WW2, posthumous decorations were simply mailed to the next of kin with a nice letter from somebody important and the citation.